Prevalence, incidence, morbidity and mortality rates of COPD in Saudi Arabia: Trends in burden of COPD from 1990 to 2019

PLoS One. 2022 May 19;17(5):e0268772. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0268772. eCollection 2022.


Background: The available data to determine the chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) burden in Saudi Arabia are scarce. Therefore, this study closely examines and tracks the trends of the COPD burden in Saudi Arabia from 1990 to 2019 using the dataset of the Global Burden of Disease (GBD) 2019.

Methods: This study used the GBD 2019 dataset to analyse the COPD prevalence, incidence, morbidity and mortality rates in the Saudi Arabian population from 1990 to 2019, stratified by sex and age. The age-standardised rate was used to determine the prevalence, incidence, years of life lost (YLLs), years lived with disability (YLDs), disability-adjusted life years (DALYs) and deaths.

Results: In 2019, an estimated 434,560.64 people (95% Uncertainty Interval (UI) 396,011.72-473,596.71) had COPD in Saudi Arabia, corresponding to an increase of 329.82% compared with the number of diagnosed people in 1990 [101,104.05 (95% UI 91,334.4-111,223.91)]. The prevalence rate of COPD increased by 49%, from 1,381.26 (1,285.35-1,484.96) cases per 100,000 in 1990 to 2,053.04 (1918.06-2194.29) cases per 100,000 in 2019, and this trend was higher in males than females. The incidence rate of COPD in 2019 was 145.06 (136.62-154.76) new cases per 100,000, representing an increase of 43.4% from the 1990 incidence rate [101.18 (95.27-107.86)]. In 2019, the DALYs rate was 508.15 (95% UI 434.85-581.58) per 100,000 population. This was higher in males than females, with a 14.12% increase among males. In 2019, YLLs contributed to 63.6% of DALYs due to COPD. The death rate due to COPD was 19.6 (95% UI 15.94-23.39) deaths per 100 000 in 2019, indicating a decrease of 41.44% compared with the death rate in 1990 [33.55 deaths per 100 000 (95% UI 25.13-47.69)]. In 2019, COPD deaths accounted for 1.65% (1.39-1.88) of the total of deaths in Saudi Arabia and 57% of all deaths caused by chronic respiratory diseases.

Conclusion: Over the period 1990-2019, the prevalence and incidence of COPD in Saudi Arabia have been steadily rising. Even though COPD morbidity and death rates have been decreasing, they remain higher in men and older age. The holistic assessment and interventions with careful attention to optimising the community-based primary care management, such as screening for early diagnosis, smoking cessation programs and pulmonary rehabilitation, are likely to be the most successful strategies to reduce the burden of COPD in Saudi Arabia.

MeSH terms

  • Female
  • Global Burden of Disease*
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Pulmonary Disease, Chronic Obstructive* / epidemiology
  • Quality-Adjusted Life Years
  • Risk Factors
  • Saudi Arabia / epidemiology

Grants and funding

The author received no specific funding for this work.